Senators take a noisy break from routine

Meet Daniel Alfredsson, teen pop idol.


Meet Daniel Alfredsson, teen pop idol.

At least that’s the way the Ottawa Senators captain felt while being cheered Wednesday by a boisterous crowd of 2,300 children, who were playing hooky to watch hockey at Rockland’s brand spanking new Canadian International Hockey Academy on Wednesday.

“I was watching the news (Wednesday) morning and I saw Justin Bieber on the Today show or whatever it was,” Alfredsson said following the Senators spirited practice at the facility. “I was the first one out on the ice and I almost felt the same way (with all the screaming). It is pretty nice to share out practice like that. You try a little bit harder.”

Alfredsson says he’s not really a Bieber fan – of all his haircuts over the years, he hasn’t yet sported the infamous Bieber cut – but his children do like the 17-year-old Canadian singing sensation, who could stickhandle a bit before his singing career took off.

If Wednesday’s turnout is any indication, Canadian children also love their NHL stars as much as they adore singing idols.

The crowd was full of youngsters sporting Senators sweaters and a few dozen brought homemade signs to welcome the team.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray had received an open invitation to bring the club to the arena, which opened in the summer. Murray, who has junior hockey roots in the area — he coached the Rockland Nationals of the Central Junior Hockey League and won the Centennial Cup as Canada’s top Tier II junior team in 1976 – jumped at the chance to expose the squad to a new, young audience.

The CIHA is a private co-ed boarding school, featuring Hockey Canada-certified coaches and talented players from Canada, the United States, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Russia. The focus is on quality education and hockey instruction and all players compete at the AA and AAA levels. Students from nearby schools were also bused in for the occasion.

With the Senators enjoying an unusually long break before returning to game action Friday against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the time was right for a change to the routine.

“We should do this more often,” said Murray. “Maybe two or three times a year, in different places.”

The general manager would get no argument from his players, who even stayed on the ice a little longer than usual, finishing off their workout with a shootout competition.

“It’s a long season and anytime you can break it up this way and have a little music and have some fun, it’s great,” said Zenon Konopka. “It was a great morning and beneficial to us.”

Defenceman Erik Karlsson raved about the new facility, suggesting it’s a perfect venue for youth hockey tournaments. “It was a great atmosphere, very loud,” he said. “It gets your (adrenalin) going.”

Senators coach Paul MacLean also believes the energy in the building inspired the players. “It was a little loud at times,” he said. “It was fun. I thought the players responded to it well. We’re getting out in the community, letting them see us at a different place, other than on TV or having to come out to Scotiabank Place. I think it’s real good for the organization.”

 

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